From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
May 10, 1997
Contact: Rick Svataro, (512) 463-0113

Texas Senate Approves HOPE Education Program Lottery Scratch-off Game

AUSTIN, Tx. -- The Texas Senate today gave approval to a measure that would create a new lottery scratch-off game to fund the Texas HOPE Education Program to support college scholarships and adult literacy programs in Texas. The floor amendment by Senators Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio) and Royce West (D-Dallas) was added to Senate Bill 105 by Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) which would dedicate lottery revenues to education.

"Every Texan deserves the chance to earn an education," Ellis said. "Creating a new Texas HOPE Education Program instant ticket game would open the doors to educational opportunity for thousands of Texas families."

According to the state senators, the HOPE amendment would direct the Texas Lottery Commission to establish, market and advertise a Texas HOPE Education Program instant ticket game to fund college scholarships and adult literacy services. Eighty percent of the proceeds from the lottery game would go to fund the Texas Tuition Assistance Grant Program which provides free tuition and fees to B-average high school graduates. Twenty percent of the proceeds from the game would go to the Texas Education Agency for adult literacy services.

"We have been working to find the money to fund the Texas Tuition Assistance Grant Program ever since it was created in 1990," said Senator Wentworth. "These are the first significant dollars set aside for this program, and they will return to us many times over in a greatly improved educational system for Texas youth."

According to the Texas Lottery Commission, in fiscal year 1996, instant ticket games generated more than $2.1 billion in sales. The two most popular instant ticket games -- Cactus Cash and Scratchman -- have generated more than $500 million in sales.

"Education is of paramount importance to the residents of Texas," said Senator West. "As we approach the dawn of the 21st century, we must do whatever we can to ensure that dedicated funds are available to allow Texans to attend Texas colleges and universities."

In 1993, the State of Georgia created the HOPE Scholarship Program which rewards B-average high school graduates with free tuition to state public and private institutions of higher education. The program is paid for by lottery funds. To date, nearly 200,000 students have attended state universities, colleges and technical institutes through the program.

Texas Higher Education Facts:

Currently, Texas trails the nation by 22.5 percent in producing college graduates. The attendance rate at four-year universities is almost 14 percent below the national average, and about one-half of those who enter a community college or university will not graduate.

Texas students receive only 60 percent of aid for which they qualify, and the state's investment in higher education for each student has declined by 24 percent in constant dollars since 1985. College graduates spend about $1.4 million more in a lifetime than high school graduates. They pay more than twice as much in Texas sales taxes, $101,592 compared to $42,405.

Texas Adult Literacy Facts:

Adult literacy programs are a vital part of moving families from welfare to work. Half of Texas AFDC recipients have literacy skills lower than those required for above minimum wage entry level jobs (Texas Adult Literacy Survey).

According to the 1994 Texas Adult Literacy Survey, more than 6 million Texas adults are functionally illiterate. Nationally, Texas ranks second behind California in the population of under-educated adults, and the state's current appropriation for adult literacy is one of the lowest in the nation.
Number of Under-Educated Adults by State Adult Education Appropriations 1995
California $450 million
Texas $9 million
New York $50 million
Florida $250 million

Texans who have the ability to read and participate in lifelong learning will be more likely to succeed in a quickly changing and challenging 21st century global economy.

Creating a new Texas HOPE Education Scratch-off game will help make literacy services available to every adult Texan who needs them.